Author Interview: Stephenia H. McGee

Happy Monday!

On Friday, I shared my book review of Missing Mercy by Stephenia H. McGee. Today, I’m pleased to share part of my interview with the author, an interview first posted at my own blog.

ABOUT THE BOOK

missing mercyMISSING MERCY
SERIES:
Ironwood Plantation Family Saga #3
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: By the Vine Press
RELEASE DATE: October 1, 2019
PAGES: 376

Mercy is missing, Faith is floundering. Only truth can lead them to freedom.

The venture ahead could leave their friendship behind.

Made a safe-haven after the Civil War, Ironwood Plantation is a refuge of equality for former slaves. But twenty years and a new generation later, they have become an isolated community with little contact with the rest of the world.

Mercy Carpenter is everything the world thinks she shouldn’t be. Educated and adventurous, she longs to make a life for herself beyond the beautiful prison of Ironwood. When she secretly submits an article to the Boston Globe under a man’s name and receives an enthusiastic response and an offer for employment, she’s determined to take advantage of the opportunity. But she isn’t prepared for a startling world that won’t accept her color or her gender, and her ambitions soon land her in grave danger.

The privileged daughter of a plantation owner and an aspiring suffragette, Faith Harper is determined not to marry. Especially not her father’s opportunistic new business partner. She doesn’t want any man telling her what to do, least of all the annoyingly chivalrous Nolan Watson. But when Mercy goes missing, Faith will do anything to find her best friend, even if it means trusting a man she doesn’t understand. In a time where prejudices try to define them, Mercy and Faith must push the boundaries of their beliefs and trust in the God who holds the keys to freedom.

Pick up your copy HERE!


Hi dear Stephenia! Welcome to Diversity Between the Pages! Let’s start with a couple of ‘just for fun’ questions first 😉

Q: Which books are “on your nightstand”?

Stephenia: If we ignore my Kindle full of hundreds of books stored in that one slim little device, then I have: Shadows over England series, books 1- 3 and the Everstone Chronicles, books 1 – 5. And then there’s Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes… in You and Your Kids in my drawer. But don’t tell my boys.

Carrie: haha! I highly recommend both of those series… and your boys won’t hear it from me 😉

Q: If I sneaked a peek in your purse right now (which I would never do, I promise!), what would it tell me about you?

Stephenia: It would tell you I need to throw away a bunch of crumbled receipts, I prefer lip gloss over lipstick, I have a keychain that I could use to hurt you (should you be a nefarious villain of ill-intent) and that I must never have to actually remove my key from the depths of my purse in order to start my car.

Carrie: LOL – hopefully that keychain is more accessible than the key, should you run into any nefarious villains of ill-intent!

Q: What was something you learned in the process/challenge of writing Mercy as a diverse main character?

Stephenia:Writing outside of your own ethnicity is daunting. I’m very grateful for the gracious guidance and insights of some awesome authors who performed a sensitivity read. The hardest part was having to write in some of the cruelty and hateful attitudes toward Mercy. I love her as a character. She’s smart, feisty, and strong-willed. Having people treat her as less than because of her physical appearance and disregarding the soul and mind inside was difficult.

Carrie: I adore Mercy – and those scenes broke my heart for her. Vital to the story – and to her character development – but heartbreaking nonetheless ♥

Q: Were there any songs that inspired you as you wrote Missing Mercy?

Stephenia: There is a scene toward the end of the book (I won’t give it away!) that is inspired by “This is Me” from the Greatest Showman soundtrack. Actually, that song really could be the theme song for Mercy.

Carrie: I think I know which scene you’re talking about and I nearly stood up and clapped after reading it!

Q: How would Mercy and Faith each personally define ‘freedom’?

Stephenia: Freedom and what it means is a major theme in this book. In the beginning, Mercy defines freedom as life away from the isolated community of Ironwood, and Faith defines it as making her own way without depending on a man. However, as the story progresses, they both discover that true freedom, and how that relates to their relationship with God, is deeper than they imagined.

Carrie: I really love this theme in the book, and how it fine-tunes in each of their lives.

Q: What is something God taught you while you wrote Missing Mercy?

Stephenia: Every book means a lesson I have to learn. It’s no coincidence that during this particular book, I was struggling with asking God how I was supposed to maintain the calling to write when He also told me to homeschool. I couldn’t find a way to do both in the ways I expected. I had to learn to turn my gifting back over to the Giver, and do things His way. I’m still struggling with it, but the lessons Mercy learns are also things God taught me about following His plans instead of mine.

Carrie: I think that’s something we all struggle with at some point – just in different forms. ‘I had to learn to turn my gifting back over to the Giver, and do things His way.” – love this!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephenia H McGee HeadshotWinner of the 2012 RONE Best Inspirational Book of the year (2012) and author of seven Historical novels, Stephenia H. McGee has a fascination with hoop skirts and ball gowns, Greek revival homes and horse-drawn carriages, quirky Southern sayings, and home-grown recipes. She currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and two boys, (accompanied by their two spoiled dogs and mischievous cat) where she writes stories of faith, redemption, and stories steeped in the South.

Visit her website at www.StepheniaMcGee.com and be sure to sign up for the newsletter to get sneak peeks, behind the scenes fun, the occasional recipe, and special offers.

Join Stephenia H. McGee’s Faithful Reader Team on Facebook to find out the latest on what is going on in her writing and chat about book-related topics. You can also catch her on Twitter & Pinterest.


What about you? What stuck out to you most about this interview?

Interview with Alexa Verde, author of Season of Joy (+Giveaway)

Good morning, readers!

Thank you for joining me as I talk to Alexa Verde about her Christmas book, Season of Joy.

Phyllis: Tell me something about Season of Joy that is  not in the blurb.

Alexa: First of all, thank you so much for interviewing me, Phyllis, and for all your support of Christian authors. I can probably talk forever about this book.

I loved writing Season of Joy because it had so much love, faith, humor, and light. I also enjoyed creating a plus-size heroine because it helped me leave my insecurities in the past. Season of Joy is a friends to true love and second chances romance, which are two of my favorite romance tropes!

Phyllis: Rios Azules. You use this setting for many of your books. What is it like?

Alexa: It’s a small town in south Texas with a caring community and quirky characters whom I’d be happy to have as friends in real time. It also has some great restaurants where I wouldn’t mind to eat myself. Rios Azules is “Blue Rivers” in Spanish, and the town is situated near a river while surrounded by forests and fields, and it’s about forty-minutes drive to the ocean. This small town is a place where people make you feel welcome whether you come for a visit or to stay. I enjoy tremendously returning there again and again, and I hope so do my readers.

Phyllis: Tell me more about the characters.

Alexa: Joy Avila is fun, down-to-earth, and caring, and Dylan McGregor thinks she’s absolutely gorgeous, though it takes him some disastrous dates with other women (set up by Joy!) to realize his soulmate is actually his childhood friend. Her profession, a travel reporter, is close to my heart. Once upon a time, I loved traveling and writing about my trips. Due to being belittled and teased as a teen, Joy has commitment issues. Dylan is a single father who works in construction and home repair. After a heartbreaking marriage to a drug addict, he’s afraid to fall in love, too. The characters of Dylan’s sons, Travis and Junior, were a lot of fun to write!

Phyllis: What were the challenges you faced creating them?

Alexa: While sweet and heartwarming, Season of Joy deals with difficult issues, for example, child abandonment and drug use by a secondary character. While I loved creating the character of Dylan’s son, Junior, it wasn’t easy writing the scenes were the boy feared for his father’s life or when he blamed himself for his mother’s abandoning him. I did love Junior’s honesty and pure faith!

Phyllis: What do you love about them and what do you hate?

Alexa: I get attached to my characters, so I love everything about them. Even when they make mistakes or behave in the way I personally wouldn’t want for them to behave, I realize they need to learn from their errors and cheer them on their difficult journey to their happily-ever-after. The only thing I hate about my characters is saying good-bye to them. That’s why they often “visit” my new books. And Joy’s best friend, Samantha, became the main character in a different book, Rapsodia.

Phyllis: What was your inspiration for writing this particular story?

Alexa: First, I wanted to write another Christmas romance, Book 2 in the Rios Azules Christmas series, because I enjoyed writing a Christmas story so much. We should remember about God’s gift to us, about His amazing love, about grace and salvation. We should turn to Jesus in every moment of our lives. Of course, we should do this always, not only during Christmas, but there’s something amazing about this most wonderful time of the year.

Second, I used to have self-image issues because I considered myself overweight in high school, so writing about a plus-size heroine who found her happiness and was adored by people around her was in a way liberating. I’m an avid reader, and I read about many romance heroines who were slim, gorgeous, and just perfect, and I thought that I didn’t look like that. Many women I know don’t look like that! I also felt it would be great to write about a man who became an everyday hero to me by raising his son alone and adopting a teenage boy, Travis, whom nobody wanted to adopt. And so Season of Joy was born.

Phyllis: What do you want your readers to learn from it?

Alexa: Society puts a lot of pressure on us to look a certain way, and sometimes we feel we don’t measure up and forget that we’re all beautiful in God’s eyes. And like Joy and Dylan, we need to let go of the past and open ourselves to new possibilities again.

Phyllis: What do you love most about writing about diverse cultures? What is most challenging about it?

Alexa: Writing about diverse cultures teaches me about acceptance of other people, and I just enjoy learning new things, one of the reasons I used to love traveling so much. And isn’t it fun trying new dishes or returning to the personal favorites? How about eating pizza for research? The challenging part about writing about diverse cultures is probably avoiding stereotypes. There are certain things associated with some nationalities, and one could subconsciously write them into a book.

Phyllis: Your bio tells me that you speak 5 languages and mentions English, Spanish and Russian. What are the other two? And what inspired you to learn them all?

Alexa: Belarusian and German, but I’m forgetting German by now. Two of five are my native languages. I learned Spanish because I love learning new languages and because many people in Texas speak Spanish. So I decided to get a B.A. in Spanish. I learned German because I wanted to travel to Germany and was fascinated by their culture.

Thank you so much for the interview, Phyllis! I loved talking to you.

Phyllis: And thank you, Alexa. It has been a pleasure to learn more about you and your books. I’m looking forward to reading Season of Joy!

*Interview conducted by Phyllis Helton, contributor


About the Author:

Alexa Verde Author-PhotoAlexa Verde writes sweet, wholesome books about faith, love, and murder. She has had 200 short stories, articles, and poems published in the five languages that she speaks. She has bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish, a master’s in Russian, and enjoys writing about characters with diverse cultures. She’s worn the hats of reporter, teacher, translator, model (even one day counts!), caretaker, and secretary, but thinks that the writer’s hat suits her the best. After traveling the world and living in both hemispheres, she calls a small town in south Texas home. The latter is an inspiration for the fictional setting of her series Rios Azules Christmas and Secrets of Rios Azules.

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About the Book:

Season of Joy by Alexa VerdeSecond chance or second heartache?Single dad Dylan McGregor wants to give his two sons the best life possible in the small town where he’d grown up. When his youngest son writes a letter to God asking for a Mom for Christmas, Dylan reluctantly starts dating again. His lifelong friend, Joy Avila, agrees to help him find the right woman. Then Dylan begins to see Joy in a new light and believes she’s the right woman for him and his family.

Overweight and teased in school, Joy never hoped her first crush, Dylan McGregor, would return her feelings. Confident and successful now, she’s found her passion in writing about international travels. The trip of a lifetime awaits her after the holidays. Instead, will she find her dreams right there in Rios Azules?

Season of Joy is available on Amazon in eBook format and paperback and is also on Kindle Unlimited.


Giveaway

Alexa is kindly giving away one eBook copy of her entire Rio Azules Christmas series collection (In Love by Christmas) to one random commenter.  If you are interested in winning, comment below. If you aren’t sure what to say, tell us what you enjoy about reading diverse fiction.

Giveaway ends at midnight November 12, 2018